Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Re-Discovering Monterey in Carmel

As a child, my family frequently traveled to California. I have fond memories of Monterey, especially the stop we always made at the Dennis the Menace Playground.

I had actually only been to the area twice as an adult, once with my friend Jaimee, when I discovered the first wine I would ever remember by name (Jekel Johannisberg Riesling) and a second time take my daughter to the Monterey Aquarium when it first opened. I knew this trip would be different than any other to Monterey County and I was excited to discover the first class hotels, fine dining, wineries and, of course, scenic coastline.

The trip didn’t quite start out the way I would have liked, with an hour and a half on the runway, followed by a bumpy four and a half hour flight and a bus ride, but things immediately started to feel better when I saw the Pacific Ocean.

Koleen, the public relations rep for the county, was waiting for me on the other side and ready to show me around Carmel. It was going to be a quiet day, which was fine with me since I had been going since 1:00 am Pacific Time. We quickly checked into Bernardus Lodge and I was handed one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had, made right at the Bernardus Winery.

My room was beautiful and had a big deck that showed not only the property, but the mountains in the background. I also had a the Bernardus welcome of three bottles of wine, popcorn and Purple Haze Goat Cheese and other goodies, which all guests receive upon check-in. 

I continued my relaxing state by checking out the property and landing in the spa. All guests (whether or not they take advantage of purchasing from the array of treatments) have use of the spa at Bernardus. I alleviated all my travel stress in the Hot Plunge Pool, followed by sometime in the Eucalyptus Steam Room and a finish in the Sauna. (Bernardus also has an outdoor pool that is heated to 80 degrees and open all year round.)

I think I could have easily drifted off into eight hours of wonderful sleep after the spa, but we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant scheduled and I didn’t want to miss Marinus, a restaurant known far and wide in these parts. We were joined by Sue Dryer, Director of Sales for the hotel, who helped guide us through some of the courses.

While I can’t have seafood, my tablemates could, and they loved the Lobster. I had the delicious Portobello Mushroom Soup with goat cheese, chive, white truffle oil. We then shared a serving of the Truffle Risotto, which was just absolutely incredible.

For a main course, I enjoyed the Colorado Lamb with Morel Mushroom, Summer Squash and Baby Carrot in roasted garlic jus. I hardly had any room for dessert, but sampled a tiny bit of everything that came to the table in our dessert extravaganza.

Soon it was time to head to bed. I was more than ready to get some rest before I headed out for a day of wine tasting in Carmel.

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